Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center: Cutting-Edge, Compassionate & Comprehensive Care

Vol. 17, No. 1
Winter 2006/2007

  • Advanced Cardiology Techniques Enhance & Expand Treatment Options at Winthrop's Institute for Heart Care

  • Winthrop Elects New Members to Board of Directors

  • Scientific Research is Basic to Winthrop's Mission

  • Weight Management Program Takes Aim at Obesity

  • New Translation Service Breaks Language Barrier

  • Jay's World Foundation Dedicates Fifth Room in Cancer Center Unit

  • Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center: Cutting-Edge, Compassionate & Comprehensive Care

  • Winthrop's Home Health Agency Among Nation's Elite

  • Winthrop's MS Treatment Center Continues to Elevate Standard of Care & Research

  • New Pre-Diabetes Intervention Program Takes Flight at Winthrop

  • Organ Donor Network Medal of Honor

  • McCormack Fund Shows Support for Cardiopulmonary Stress Lab

  • A True Champion

  • Bay's Big Bash

  • The Franceschini Family Supports Colon Cancer Research

  • Evening of Tasting and Giving

  • Lippert Family Dinner Dance Raises $35,000 for Cancer Center for Kids

  • Residency Programs Get the Nod

  • Truckloads of Toys

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  • No one -- even a smoker -- is ever prepared to hear that they have lung cancer.

    The immediate reaction, usually shock, is often followed by a feeling of being besieged -- by a massive amount of new information, critical treatment options to understand and seemingly endless visits to specialists. Even under the best of circumstances, navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming.

    (L.-R.) Julie Mischo, RN, Cancer Care Coordinator; Scott Schubach, MD, thoracic surgeon and Chairman of Winthrop's Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery; and Jeffrey Schneider, MD, Medical Director of Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center, discuss the best course of treatment for a patient.
    But it needn't be that way. Offering a comprehensive program of prevention, diagnosis and advanced multidisciplinary inpatient and outpatient treatment for men and women with lung cancer -- and those with a high risk of developing the disease -- the staff at Winthrop-University Hospital's Lung Cancer Center understands lung cancer patients' unique anxieties and fears, and focuses on alleviating their stress.

    "I was stunned when I heard the news," said John Gilbert, a retired police sergeant, who had quit smoking 10 years earlier. In May 2005, he was referred to Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center and diagnosed with stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer, a complex disease that requires a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach.

    The Center consists of a diverse team of specialists, managed by Medical Director Jeffrey Schneider, MD, and Cancer Care Coordinator Julie Mischo, RN. The team includes medical oncologists, thoracic surgeons, interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, pathologists, social workers and pulmonary rehabilitation therapists. Each of the relevant specialists contributes to the patients' care as they meet regularly to determine the best course of treatment.

    "Our patients are at the core of everything we do," said Dr. Schneider. "They can be confident that we use every available resource to deliver leading-edge care that targets their individualized medical circumstances."

    For Mr. Gilbert, the Center's team developed an individualized and aggressive treatment plan, including a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. After he completed treatment, he followed up with participation in Winthrop's nationally recognized Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program (PRP), which not only helped restore his breathing capacity, but also improved his general well-being.

    Considered Long Island's most comprehensive resource for treating breathing disorders, the PRP provides patients with exercise programs specifically tailored to their strengths and weaknesses, health information and group support to help them cope with feelings of anger, depression and anxiety. "While this program is not a cure, it optimizes care and improves quality of life," said Mara Bernstein, Administrative Director of Outpatient Services for Pulmonary and Critical Care at Winthrop.

    "No words can express how I was cared for during my treatment, and how I still feel cared for," said Mr. Gilbert. "From day one, they handled everything. All of my tests and treatments were booked for me. We were always informed about what was happening and what I could expect. That made the whole thing a lot easier."

    Cancer Care Coordinator Julie Mischo helps patients and families move through the process as easily as possible. Working closely with the Center's specialists to organize and orchestrate patient care and program activities, Ms. Mischo supports patients and families through constant interaction with the Center's medical, nursing and social work staffs. "It is my job to keep the lines of communication open so our patients can deal with the challenges presented by their disease," she said.

    At 71, Frances Malloy, also a smoker diagnosed with stage IIIA lung cancer, was particularly challenged when she came to Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center. She had been treated previously at another facility, and felt frustrated and frightened when her condition did not improve. The team created a multidisciplinary treatment plan that involved surgical removal of her malignancy by thoracic surgeon John Goncalves, MD, and a course of chemotherapy prescribed and supervised by Dr. Schneider. When asked about the care she received at Winthrop, Ms. Malloy simply stated, "I've been to other hospitals, and I feel Winthrop is the best. I have no doubt they saved my life."

    When people are facing a life-threatening illness, most find that it is not only vital to have the best and most advanced treatment, but it's also important to know that that they are regarded as individuals and that their concerns are really heard. That's what 64-year-old Joan Aspromonte experienced when she came to the Lung Cancer Center with metastatic lung cancer that had spread to her thigh.

    "This was an unusual case," said thoracic surgeon Scott Schubach, MD, Chairman of Winthrop's Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. "Normally, after operating on the secondary site, we would not operate on the lung; we'd recommend additional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation. Ms. Aspromonte expressed a desire to restrict treatment to surgery, and noting that she was otherwise healthy and functioned well, we agreed that for this patient, the most aggressive approach to optimized care would be lung surgery without further therapy."

    Six years later, Ms. Aspromonte remains a grateful cancer survivor. "Dr. Schubach and Dr. Schneider listened to every word I had to say," she recalled. "They did everything possible in my best interest. I was lucky."

    She was more than lucky. She had come to Winthrop's Lung Cancer Center, where "we take state-of-the-art treatment and tailor it to individual situations," said Dr. Schneider. "Ms. Aspromonte's case warranted doing something that was a little different. We recognized her unique circumstances and designed a treatment that was appropriate and beneficial for her."

    The unique strategies employed by the Center have fostered improved health and optimism for hundreds of lung cancer patients at Winthrop. For more information, call (516) 663-4637 or visit

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